Covid-19 causes delay to SWDP Review

The completion of the review of the South Worcestershire Development Plan has been delayed due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was hoped that the document would be ready for public examination in early 2021, but lockdown restrictions have made it impossible to complete a number of technical assessments and evidence gathering needed to support the plan. This includes additional traffic and air quality modelling. These cannot be carried out currently as vehicle movements are still not close enough to pre-lockdown levels.

Over the next few months the necessary assessments and studies will take place. The plan to be sent for public examination will be published, subject to approval by all three South Worcestershire Councils, in October 2021. It will then be submitted to the Secretary of State in February 2022. The expectation is it will then be examined before the end of 2022 and adopted shortly after. The proposed timetable changes still need to be approved by the three South Worcestershire Councils. They will be considered at meetings in September.

Cllr Lucy Hodgson, Chair of the SWDP Joint Advisory Panel, said: “We’re disappointed we have to push back the SWDPR timetable but it was unavoidable given the delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Many consultants needed to complete the technical work required remain on furlough, and any data we capture now about traffic movements or air quality would not give us a reliable picture.

“Given the importance of this document to meeting future demand for housing and economic growth in South Worcestershire, it’s important the plan is robust so it’s right we take the time to do this work.

“The team will do everything possible to make sure there is no further delay to the timetable but that will depend on how the pandemic progresses and the impact of a second wave of Covid-19 or any future lockdown restrictions.”

The revised SWDP sets out how a Government requirement to build another 14,000 new homes across Malvern Hills District, Worcester City and Wychavon District by 2041 will be met. This is on top of the need for 28,400 new homes by 2030, more than half of which have already been built, set out in the current plan.   

South Worcestershire Development Plan Review Preferred Options

A proposal to consult on plans to build three major new settlements across South Worcestershire, to meet future demand for new housing, is set to go before councillors.

The Preferred Options document, produced as part of the review of the South Worcestershire Development Plan, sets out how a Government requirement to build another 14,000 new homes across Malvern Hills District, Worcester City and Wychavon by 2041 will be met. This is on top of the need for 28,400 new homes by 2030, more than half of which have already been built, set out in the current plan.

Planners have assessed more than 900 sites put forward for potential development against a range of technical criteria and have made a series of recommendations about the most sustainable locations. These include:

• A new town at Worcestershire Parkway delivering 5,000 homes by 2041, with the potential for another 5,000 after that.

• A new town at Throckmorton Airfield delivering 2,000 new homes from 2030 with the potential for further expansion in the future.

• An expanded settlement at Rushwick delivering 1,000 new homes from 2030 once a new railway station has been secured.

• Plans for 810 new homes on various sites around Worcester, 730 at Droitwich Spa, 200 in Evesham, 880 in Malvern, 600 in Pershore and 60 in Tenbury Wells.

• More than 900 new homes earmarked for villages across Wychavon and 390 within Malvern Hills District.

On top of this, the document contains plans for providing another 273 hectares of employment land to allow for the growth of businesses and job creation.

The vast majority, 140 hectares, has been allocated within Wychavon with 55 hectares planned for Malvern Hills District. Another 70 hectares is planned to be split between the three major proposed development sites at Worcestershire Parkway, Throckmorton and Rushwick.

Councillors in Worcester City will consider the proposals on Tuesday, 22 October, Wychavon Wednesday, 23 October and Malvern Hills District on Tuesday, 29 October. If each council approves then a six week public consultation will be held from 4 November. Details of the consultation will be released should the proposals be approved by all three councils.

Cllr Lucy Hodgson, Chair of the SWDP Joint Advisory Panel, said “This is an important step in the process to ensure our local plan continues to allow the three South Worcestershire Councils to meet the Government’s requirement for new housing, as well as providing opportunities for companies to invest, grow and create jobs.

“A huge amount of work has gone into selecting the proposed sites and I’d urge residents to read the document in full, understand the reasoning behind these recommendations and – should they be approved – get involved in the consultation.”

The Preferred Options document is available to view on each of the council’s websites:

Malvern Hills / Worcester City / Wychavon

SWDPR Interactive Policies Map

To view PDF Maps of the SWDPR Preferred Options Proposed Housing and Employment Allocations, in addition the SWDP Housing and Employment Allocations which are being carried forward, please follow the links below (it should be noted that formal consultation on the SWDPR Preferred Options will commence, subject to approval from the south Worcestershire Councils, on 4th November, and as such comments on the proposed allocations and all other elements of the SWDPR Preferred Options should not be made until the formal consultation period commences):

New and Expanded Settlements
Worcestershire Parkway
Throckmorton Airfield
Rushwick Expanded Settlement

City and Towns
Worcester City
Droitwich Spa
Tenbury Wells

Land at Mitton (adjacent to Tewkesbury)
Land at Mitton

Abberley Common
Ashton under Hill
Callow End
Church Lench
Cleeve Prior
Clifton upon Teme
Clows Top
Crowle and Crowle Green
Drakes Broughton
Fernhill Heath
Flyford Flavell
Great Witley
Hanley Swan
Hartlebury Trading Estate
Hill and Moor
Holly Green and Ryall

Leigh Sinton
Lower Broadheath
North and Middle Littleton
Norton and Lenchwick
Powick and Collett’s Green
South Littleton
Tunnel Hill
Upton Snodsbury

SWDPR 10 City, Town, District and Local Centres
Worcester City Centre
Droitwich Spa Town Centre
Evesham Town Centre
Pershore Town Centre
Malvern Town Centre
Tenbury Wells Town Centre
Upton-upon-Severn Town Centre
St John’s District Centre
Malvern Link District Centre
Barnard’s Green District Centre
Barbourne Local Centre
Brindley Road Local Centre
Canada Way Local Centre
Cranham Drive Local Centre
Dines Green Local Centre
Ronkswood Local Centre
St Peter’s Local Centre
Broadway Local Centre
Port Street, Evesham Local Centre

Proposed Significant Gap Removals
Beckford North and South
Crowle and Crowle Green
Hinton-on-the Green
Upton Snodsbury
Wyre Piddle

South Worcestershire Development Plan Review Issues and Options Consultation

Views are being sought to help shape the future growth of South Worcestershire into the middle of this century.

A public consultation is being launched on Monday, 5 November on the review of the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP). This will help Malvern Hills District, Worcester City and Wychavon District Councils decide how to best accommodate housing and employment growth in the area to 2041.

This includes the building of another 14,000 new homes to meet demand as well as 169 hectares of employment land to support companies to grow and create new jobs.

The current SWDP was approved by the three South Worcestershire Councils in 2016 and set out proposals to deliver 28,400 new homes and 300 hectares of employment land by 2030.

However, the Government now requires all councils to review their local plans every five years to ensure they are keeping up with the latest housing requirements. Failure to do so could mean councils losing control over where development takes place.

Since December 2017 planners have been collecting and analysing technical evidence which has been used to inform the review so far. Using the Government’s standard methodology it has been calculated an additional 14,000 new homes will be needed by 2041.

This is due to factors such as population increases, more people living in smaller households and affordability. Despite more than 16,500 new homes being built since 2006, many people still struggle to access affordable and housing market. The average house price in South Worcestershire is now £260,000 and the average rental for a one bedroom flat as high as £530 a month.

Planners have also been looking at whether the current SWDP development strategy – which focuses most development at Worcester, Droitwich, Evesham and Malvern – could deliver the new requirement or other options such as a brand new settlement or settlements should feature.

Other issues being looked at include whether or not:

  • Planning rules should be relaxed in town centres to support the viability and vitality of high streets
  • The Green Belt should be used to accommodate some new development
  • New employment land should be provided near new housing or strategic transport sites like railway stations and motorway junctions
  • Electric car charging  points should be required in new developments
  • Developers should have to provide plots to allow people to build their own homes

This work has now been set out in an Issues and Options document and the public and all interested parties are being invited to have their say.

A series of roadshows are being held to provide people with more information and gather views. They take place on:

Saturday 10 Nov CrownGate, Friary Walk, Worcester 10am to 4pm

Tuesday 13 Nov Pump Rooms, Tenbury Wells 2pm to 8pm

Thursday 15 Nov Parish Centre, Droitwich 2pm to 8pm

Tuesday 20 Nov Memorial Hall, Upton upon Severn 2pm to 8pm

Wednesday 21 Nov Town Hall, Pershore 2pm to 8pm

Monday 26 Nov Lyttleton Rooms, Malvern 2pm to 8pm

Thursday 29 Nov Town Hall, Evesham 2pm to 8pm

People will also be able to take part in the consultation online which will be available here from 5 November 2018. The deadline for responses is 5pm on Monday 17 December.

Comments on the Issues and Options will be assessed and will help inform the next stage of the plan making process which will include site specific development proposals which will be the subject of another round of public consultation likely to be  in November next year. A final report will be published for consultation and submitted to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate for public examination in 2020. It is hoped a revised SWDP will be approved and published in 2021.

Revocation of the West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy

On Thursday 25th April 2013 the Government announced that the West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy would be revoked on Monday 20th May 2013. The Chief Planner’s letter making this announcement can be found here

Clarification of site description of Site Allocation SWDP43/4 Old Northwick Farm

In the Issues and Responses Summary Report (28 November 2012) on Significant Changes Consultation (Summer 2012), the description of an area to exclude from the Old Northwick Farm site allocation was unclear because it refers to ‘delete land at 22a Northwick Lane’.  It should  have read ‘delete land at Old Northwick Farmhouse, Northwick Lane’ .  The maps that were available at the Full Council meetings in December 2012 and the  Interactive Map for the  Proposed Submission Plan exclude Old Northwick Farmhouse from Site Allocation SWDP 43/4 Old Northwick Farm.